The Delhi government on Friday announced that schools for classes 9 to 12, colleges and coaching institutions will reopen from September 1 and said no child will be forced to attend physical classes and there will be no compulsory attendance.
The decision came following a marked improvement in the Covid-19 situation in Delhi after a recent brutal second wave of the infection claimed many lives, with the shortage of oxygen at hospitals across the city adding to the woes.
While a few parents were positive about the development and said the learning loss caused by the pandemic is irreversible, others were not in favour of sending their wards to school yet without vaccination.
“We are talking about reopening the schools but with the third wave looming over our heads and the ongoing viral infections, it is not a good idea specially for the primary school and middle school. Without vaccination of the kids, we should not open the schools,” said Suneet Singh, father of 12-year-old Angad.
Echoing his views, Nanidini Sharma, mother of a class 7 student, said, “I will not be sending my 11-year-old back to school in September. Although online schooling is no substitute for the learning students were receiving till last year. In the absence of vaccination for children, as a parent, I will still keep my child’s health and safety above anything else”.
She said it has been months since experts have been warning the government and the public that children will be the most impacted should there be a third Covid-19 wave and we have seen so many young children succumbing to the infection during the deadly second-wave.
“Re-opening schools without a proper vaccination plan in place is like playing with their lives,” she said.
The Delhi Parents’ Association president Aparajita Gautam warned that the consequences of this decision will be visible in a few weeks itself and parents should exercise restrain in letting their children out amid warning by experts about the third wave.
However, Preksha Joshi had a different view on the issue.
“Covid is everywhere now, all one can do is not let their guards down and follow all protocols. How long will kids be confined to homes? The damage it is doing to their behavior as well as social skills is irreversible,” she said.
Supporting her views RC Sharma, father of two school going children said, “When there is no compulsory attendance, parents should not have any problem. Those who are still not sure can choose not to send their wards.
“Nobody is being compelled by the government. May be I will also not send my kids for an entire week but they need to step out in a proper classroom for few days atleast”.
Ashok Agarwal, president, All India Parents Association (AIPA), “It (reopening) was very necessary for all the students. Government school students hope to participate in big number as they were anxiously waiting for reopening.
“Due to shutting down whole education system is disturbed. Don’t know how much time it will take to recover but better late than never.”
The Directorate of Education (DoE) will soon notify the detailed SoPs for reopening of schools.
Separate entry and exit to avoid crowding, calling 50 per cent students of classroom seating capacity, increased facility for cleaning and sanitization, availability of quarantine room and random collection of samples of students and staff on regular basis are among the SoPs recommended by a panel set up by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA).